Full Faith and Credit Clause for Protection Orders

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 How is the Full Faith and Credit Clause Defined?

The Full Faith and Credit Clause is located in Article IV, Section of the United States Constitution. To promote the unification of the U.S., the original framers of the Constitution included this clause.

Courts are bound by the Full Faith and Credit Clause when dealing with other rulings from other jurisdictions and courts. Under this clause, certain matters in a state must be honored in all other states in the country, including:

  • Decisions;
  • Public records; and
  • Rulings.

As a result, every United States court must give full faith and credit to other courts’ decisions. Conflicts may arise between states without this clause, and the legal system would be overwhelmed by overlapping rulings.

What Is the Purpose of the Full Faith and Credit Clause?

As a result of the Full Faith and Credit Clause, the numerous courts that operate in the United States interact harmoniously. Additionally, it reduces judicial waste as well as unnecessary re-litigation of already decided cases.

Suppose an individual was adjudicated in one state and then moved to another state. The clause ensures that the previous ruling will carry over. Rather than having to retry the issue at hand, the court can review the issue and rely on the other out-of-state court’s determination.

What Is a Protection or Restriction Order?

A protection order is a court order or injunction issued to prevent violent, threatening, harassing acts against another person or contact or communication with this person. Protection orders are also known as restraining orders, harassment orders, and injunctions.


All jurisdictions will enforce victims’ protection orders when they travel, work, or relocate. The enforcement of a protection order should be expedited by presenting a certified copy.

Law Enforcement Officers

Public law enforcement agencies (e.g., police, sheriffs, probation, and correctional institutions) should enforce any facially valid protection order issued by a court in another jurisdiction.


Prosecutors can hold offenders accountable for violations of enforceable protection orders issued in all jurisdictions. By vigorously enforcing protection orders, prosecutors can enhance the safety of victims.


The judge should issue clear, comprehensive orders that include explicit warnings about possible state and federal consequences for violating them. It is the responsibility of judges to enforce orders issued by other judges.

Court Staff

In addition to expediting the enforcement of orders issued outside their judicial district, court staff can safeguard both victims identifying information and whereabouts.


Victim advocates can help victims obtain enforceable protection orders and facilitate their enforcement.

To enforce protection orders and safeguard victims, advocates should promote legal system coordination. Information about advocacy services in destination communities should be provided to victims by advocates.

What Jurisdictions Are Covered?

As well as all 50 states, Indian tribal lands, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam are included.

Victim Advocacy

Victims should be supported and informed throughout the enforcement process. To provide safety planning and advocacy throughout the enforcement process, victims should be connected with a community-based advocate or a victim/witness specialist within your office.

If the victim is a member of a marginalized community, prosecutors should be aware of the difficulty of enforcing the law.

Women of color, immigrants, the elderly, and same-sex victims face greater obstacles and vulnerabilities. It is possible to enhance the chances of successful enforcement by providing culturally appropriate services to victims to promote their safety.

Are My Protection Orders Enforceable Anywhere in the U.S.?

The full faith and credit provision in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 1994 was enacted so that a valid protection order can be enforced anywhere in the country. Protection orders issued in any state, tribal area, or territory are enforceable nationwide. In accordance with this principle, judges must recognize and enforce judgments and decrees issued by courts in other states.

Pre-Full Faith and Credit: What Was the Situation?

Until the federal Full Faith and Credit Clause was enacted, it was difficult to get law enforcement, courts, and prosecutors to help outside of the issuing state. With a protection order, it was difficult to cross state lines to visit family and friends, work, shop, or relocate permanently.

Temporary, Emergency, or Ex Parte Orders: What Do They Mean?

If the order meets certain requirements, it is also entitled to full faith and credit. At the victim’s request, these orders are issued without notice to the abuser for a short time before a hearing must be held. They are valid in other states for the same period as in the state where they were issued. In order for the order to be enforceable by arrest, the abuser must have been served with it or received notice of it.

Can a Person Violate the Clause?

A person cannot relocate to another state solely to obtain a different ruling in a child custody or family law matter. Instead, the new state’s court will examine the records of previous rulings in the first state and make findings based on those records.

It is generally prohibited by civil procedure laws to find fault with a particular court or to hunt for a suitable venue by going from place to place, referred to as forum shopping.

Someone who abuses the Full Faith and Credit Clause may be subject to court fines or contempt orders.

If, however, a court violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause by not honoring the ruling of another court, it may be re-determined or appealed.

When Does Full Faith and Credit Not Apply?

All fifty states are required to adhere to consistent standards under the Full Faith and Credit Clause. A state may not enforce the Full Faith and Credit Clause if it conflicts with its public policy.

For example, California allows transgender individuals to change the gender on their birth certificates as well as their state ID cards to reflect their chosen gender. The state of California considers this right to be beneficial for the transgender community.

Contrary to New Mexico, this exact change is not permitted and is not considered a public benefit. New Mexico would not be required to allow transgender individuals to change their gender on their birth certificates and state ID cards based on the Full Faith and Credit Clause.

How Can My Abuser Be Punished?

In addition to the full faith and credit law, several other federal laws may apply to your domestic violence case. A violation of these laws may result in federal criminal prosecution and punishment for an abuser. If an abuser travels across state or tribal lands to commit domestic violence acts or to violate a protection order, these laws make that illegal.

As a result of these laws, interstate stalking and possession of a firearm or ammunition while under protection orders may also be illegal.

Where Is the Crime Charged if a Violation Occurs?

Prosecutors should file charges if a violation occurs, and courts should hear the case according to local laws.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Getting a protection order and what to do if you move can be confusing and difficult. An experienced criminal lawyer can assist you and help you to be safe.


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